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Journal

Homegrown | Kovacs

Homegrown is a series highlighting some of our local and loved creative businesses in the community who have been designing and crafting on the local and international stage.

Today we speak to Hildy Kovacs of Kovacs Design, an artisan furniture designer based in Christchurch.  Kovacs has a rich history in furniture manufacturing where their ethos is to produce pieces built to inspire, to uphold and endure.  Over the years the company has seen many changes requiring the business to adjust dramatically to the increasing competition and changing retail environment.

JDT

Tell us about your evolution of Kovacs? 

HK

The company was started by my parents in the early 60s.  My brother Johnny and I became involved as school children making buttons. Later on, after education we came back into the fold and over time grew into our individual roles.  

The company has seen many changes in how the furniture sector operates. From the initial period when the industry was largely locally manufactured, to the opening of imports in the 90s.   

We are constantly analysing what we are doing, where our direction should be and what we need to do to support our vision, it’s part of growing and adapting to the evolving marketplace.

JDT

What is the vision of Kovacs?

HK

Kovac’s passion is to design and produce furniture that is great on the eye, is good quality and well-priced. We are committed to using sustainably sourced and recycled materials wherever possible and we constantly keep up to date will all the tools needed to ensure we do the best job possible while keeping our manufacturing processes well documented and strictly adhered to.

JDT

Talk us through your design process.

HK

Like many, I draw life size.  You have to be clear on all aspects of the piece in question. Its appearance, foams, upholstery solutions - all these have to be sorted before you even think about the frame drawing.  I typically will spend more time thinking about the product long before I even lay pencil to paper. 

During the design process all materials and methodology are selected for each department and once in production these are implemented and strictly adhered to ensure consistency of product, finish and quality. Because of this level of control we are confident in the ability to offer product guarantees - we believe in our product.               

Besides knowing all the processes intimately, it’s imperative to take the time to plan and analyse the outcome before you start – it has saved us time and time again to catch potential issues early. 

Lastly it is important to have skilled people at your side. Most of our team have been with us for many years and together we have been though some challenging situations that tested us to the limit.  As a result there is a special bond that has developed between us all. 

JDT

What influences Kovacs aesthetic?

HK

We use all our senses as we walk through life and they have a direct influence on our interpretation of the world around us. The past and present most certainly contribute to our decisions and creativeness. Our challenge is to add elements that makes the product unique, with their own hand writing.   

Kovacs is a small producer of furniture, with a range of just over 50 different designs, all made in our factory here in Christchurch. Our production is based on individual customer orders, unlike mass production which is based on single design runs. We also customise our designs to suite specific client requirements. Typically, each week we will have a myriad of designs selected, varying combinations and all with different fabric choices. 

JDT

Where do you source your materials?

HK

We source as much New Zealand made material as we can however as the manufacturing sector has significantly declined over the last 15 years, our sources have in many instances also dried up. We buy from New Zealand companies that source globally and at times, we also buy product directly from Italy, Australia and the US.

JDT

What are the key aspects of design you are balancing - look, feel, comfort, speed of delivery, final quality, craftsmanship?

HK

It’s a juggling act, and in one word EVERYTHING is important. To achieve the perfect balance and harmony is a constant challenge, something I angst about continually. Our people are all skilled with a history of experience in their individual fields. Learning is continual process, as new products and methods get introduced into our manufacturing system.  We encourage any and all input from our people. They are the company's biggest resource.

JDT

What inspires you?

HK

There are inspiring brands that many of us could no doubt roll off our tongues, so I wouldn't be saying anything that we don't already know. For me it’s the people doing the creating, whether it be a home, building, interior, luxury car, a home gadget they are who spur me on, who help give me that drive.  

My father however will always be my biggest inspiration.

JDT

Kovacs have been a great supporter of James Dunlop and we have a fantasic symbiotic relationship. James Dunlop's recent range, the Fusion Collection was shot entirely on Kovacs furniture.

www.kovacs.co.nz

“We use all our senses as we walk through life and they have a direct influence on our interpretation of the world around us. Our challenge is to add elements that makes the product unique, with their own hand writing.”

Related

Homegrown | Think & Shift

People & Places

We hear from James McNab, Director at Think + Shift an innovative Auckland design studio whose scope of work crosses the fields of product, furniture, interior and architecture design. Working with a range of craftsman and contractors, this agile team of innovators produce thought-provoking design to enrich the way we live.